Developmental Stages of Infants & Children

Infancy (0 to 1 ½ years old)

Your baby begins to connect with the world around her. Babies will start to communicate with the people around them as early as 1 month old. Your baby interacts with her caregivers by smiling and imitating facial expressions. She shows pain, anger, fear and frustration by crying. Somewhere about 12 to 18 months, most children begin saying their first words. Babies also begin to walk about this time, although a few babies who are perfectly normal may begin walking and talking earlier or later.

Toddlers - (18 months to 3 years old)

About 18 months, children become more independent and more opinionated. Your toddler is gaining a sense of selfhood and he expresses his emotions much more intensely. He will scream with delight when happy and throw temper tantrums when he is angry, frustrated, or wants his way. His physical development is maturing and he may be able to jump, run easily, feed himself, kick balls and throw things. His toilet training is usually complete sometime in the third year, although he may still have accidents. He knows he is a separate person, and can refer to himself by name. During this stage of development, he begins to develop social skills, and can play with other children for short periods of time.

Preschool (4 to 5 years old)

Your child’s large motor skills will continue to develop (running, jumping, climbing, throwing) as will her fine motor skills (using her hands to draw, paint, use scissors, tie shoes). Your preschooler’s vocabulary will usually have about 1,300 words. She begins to understand time concepts. She also knows how to group objects by similarity (color, function). Preschoolers have a strong need for friends and like to be around older children. They begin to understand the difference between right and wrong, and are interested in rules. They like to boast and may have imaginary friends. Preschoolers begin developing more sophisticated social skills. She will like to please adults, can share, loves to role-play, and is beginning to understand the difference between truth and lies.

School age (6 to 12 years old)

Children at this age begin to think logically and solve problems. Your child will learn to read and write. Many children may start a collection, which requires classifying objects. There is a gender division at this age, where boys and girls play separately. At this age, peers begin to criticize other peers for being different. Peers become the standard for behavior. They can express their feelings freely. They are sensitive to criticism and ridicule and worry about their friend’s opinions of them. Sometimes they are moody and unpredictable. They begin to make value judgments, set standards for themselves, and accept responsibility. They still see their parents as perfect or infallible.